Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri reiterated his call for the aircraft modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), following the crash of a C-130 military plane in Sulu, killing 54 individuals, many of whom were new soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division training unit in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
“I am unfortunately starting to sound like a broken record in my call for modern aircraft and training equipment for our troops. I am so saddened by the loss of such brave and patriotic individuals in such a senseless death,” Zubiri said. “That’s what angers me the most. We’re losing so many great men and women because of poor equipment and outdated aircraft.”
“Just over the last year, we’ve already lost over seventy people in military aircraft accidents. Four in a crash in Isabela in July 2020, another four in Basilan in September, one in Lanao del Sur in November, seven in Bukidnon in January of this year, and six more in Tarlac just last month,” the veteran legislator noted.
“This is one of the worst air disasters for the Air Force and the AFP.”
“And now, over fifty people in Sulu. This is one of the worst air disasters for the Air Force and the AFP. We really need to fast-track our aircraft modernization so we can stop ruining lives like this, and ensure that no other accident surpasses this one in the future,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.
The senator appealed to the DBM to find the budget necessary for the Air Force to replace their aging fleet, particularly their workhorses, which he said are their overused and extremely old C-130s.
“Is this how we value our military?”
“Early this year I sounded the alarm on AFP aircraft modernization, after meeting with Deputy Chief Florante Amano and other officials from the Air Force in January. We had the meeting after the Bukidnon crash, because I wanted to hear about their modernization plans and ask them what we in the legislative can help them with,” Zubiri recalled. “It is unthinkable that we’d left our soldiers to use 50-year-old helicopters and aircraft for so long. Is this how we value our military?”
He noted that apart from upgrading our aircraft and other equipment, the government must also beef up training programs for our military pilots, specifically for fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft.
“Modernization entails not only buying the best aircraft and equipment, but also providing state-of-the-art and extensive training for our military personnel. We have to invest in simulators, so we can consistently train our soldiers without risking their lives, or the lives of civilians,” Zubiri stressed.
“And again, we in the Senate are prepared to listen and to help our military with their budget. Anything we can do to ensure that this what happened in Sulu is our last accident of this kind. We have to get serious about modernizing our military. We cannot lose any more lives like this,” he concluded.